Tension headaches are the most common headaches, and generally cause infrequent mild to moderate pain, but in a considerable number of patients, tension headaches are so frequent that they require treatment. Migraine headaches, on the other hand, can be disabling and severe. Accompanying symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. Treatment for tension-type and migraine headaches typically consists of over-the-counter or prescription medications, respectively. The aim of the systematic reviews was to determine whether acupuncture is also an effective treatment option for these conditions.
Acupuncture therapy can provide patients who suffer from tension and migraine headache an alternative treatment for their pain. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin, metallic needles at specific points. It is one of the main medical treatments in traditional Chinese medicine, where it came into being more than 2,000 years ago.
In Germany, acupuncture is frequently used for headache. Most private health insurances, in fact, reimburse for acupuncture, although they cover only about 10 percent of the population. The practice has also gained popularity in the United States. A 2002 National Health Interview Survey of complementary and alternative medicine use found that about 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture in their lives, and an estimated 2.1 million had used acupuncture the previous year.
Brian Berman, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine in Baltimore, confirmed that acupuncture is definitely becoming a more popular treatment option for Americans. There is more evidence coming out showing acupuncture is safe and often effective and should be considered as part of a multidisciplinary approach for chronic pain.
If you suffer from migraine headaches, you know how debilitating the pain and discomfort can be. According to Statistics Canada, one in every 12 Canadians–more than two million people–regularly get migraines. These throbbing headaches, which can affect every aspect of life, may be prevented and treated with acupuncture.
Acupuncture for migraine is the most common reason that physicians refer their patients to doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In 1979 in Beijing, the World Health Organization recognized acupuncture as an effective migraine treatment.
Getting to the Root
The purpose of using TCM is to treat the root cause of the migraine attacks, rather than provide a temporary solution. Acupuncture in combination with traditional Chinese herbal medicine aims to treat the migraine headache (the branch) as well as the underlying imbalance (the root).
Sometimes the flow of the body’s vital energy (chi) and blood from the liver is blocked, and whenever blockage occurs, pain happens. The liver is easily affected by stress and anxiety. Hence the pain of migraine headaches whenever emotions such as anger, worry, fear, shock, frustration, and resentment overwhelm or when we work excessively, both physically and mentally. Energy can also be blocked and lead to migraine headaches because of traumatic injury; external pathogenic factors, such as wind and dampness; and hormone fluctuations (the menstrual cycle).
Pins and Needles
In the treatment of migraines, fine stainless steel acupuncture needles stimulate specific points that help your body regulate blood flow in the small vessels that typically become constricted in a migraine attack. Acupuncture treatment also helps the body balance levels of serotonin, a blood compound that constricts blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter. Numerous studies, including a Thai study published in the January 2006 issue of Headache, have found that low serotonin levels make people more vulnerable to migraine headaches.
In addition, acupuncture releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Most important, acupuncture relaxes tense muscles, which can also help to relieve migraines. A typical acupuncture treatment lasts from 30 minutes to an hour and is a comfortable and relaxing experience.
A study led by Dr. Baischer of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Vienna showed that the improvements achieved by acupuncture therapy are stable over a long period of time. During a five-week observation period, the frequency of migraine attacks immediately after treatment was significantly reduced and remained low in a three-year follow-up period. Use of pain medications was reduced by half.
Acupuncture can help migraine sufferers take charge of their health. You shouldn’t have to suffer with migraines anymore.
Acupuncture can help treat migraines. This was discovered after a comparative study was done with conventional medical care. In some cases, it even prevents it from happening which helps improve the quality of life for the patient.
To understand how acupuncture helps migraine sufferers, you have to understand that in traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that an imbalance in the flow of blood and energy causes this to happen.
In order to treat it, the specialist must relieve the tension by inserting needles into the body to improve the blood flow to the brain thus reducing the pain experienced during an attack.
The needles used helps the body balance the serotonin levels since it is a neurotransmitter that affects blood vessels and has a role to play in migraines. In fact the more frequent these sessions are the better. It may even come to a point where the specific point of contact is no longer needed but the general stimulation itself.
The end result of undergoing acupuncture is amazing. If you experience 15 to 20 days of agonizing pain, this may be count down to only 8 days. You won’t even need to use that much medication anymore as before.
For those who are working, this is good so that they are not absent from work that much and there won’t be that much deductions in their salary.
But how well acupuncture does for one patient may vary with another. This depends on the condition of the attack and the individual.
The best part about acupuncture is that there are no side effects and it is painless. Skillful professionals can do this so you don’t suffer from hematoma or pneumothorax. Another disease is potentially dangerous is HIV or hepatitis which can be prevented of course as long as the needles used are properly sterilized. It will be much better if the person uses disposable needles.
Acupuncture has been practiced in the United States for more than 2 decades. Although tests have shown how effective it can be to treat chronic conditions and certain addictions, more studies need to be done to see where else it can be useful.
Although one test has proven that acupuncture can help migraines, other tests will also have to be done to prove if this is true. Until such time that other results are published, patients will have to rely on conventional medicine that is prescribed by a doctor.
But you don’t have to wait for the results to come out. If you think it is worth a try, go for it. Just ask for a referral from your doctor as there are many practitioners who have accepted the fact that alternative forms of medicine can also help a patient.
You can also find someone online. You can be sure they are certified if they are recognized by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Aside from that, you should also make some lifestyle changes as there are trigger factors that have been known to cause migraines. Stress is number one on the list so you get enough rest and exercise as well as a balanced diet.
Patients who are suffering from migraine should also check if acupuncture is covered by their HMO. Most insurance providers and HMO’s these days cover all or part of the cost but there are restrictions so you should check what is covered by your policy.
Be Happy – Acupuncture Can Help Treat Migraines.